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Police swamped with tips about Pasco man with vast collection of IDs

NEW PORT RICHEY — More than 100 tips have flooded into the New Port Richey Police Department since the agency issued a public plea Monday to find out:

"Who is Roy Antigua?"

While arrested on an unrelated charge last week, Antigua, 52, was found to have a dizzying stockpile of military, law enforcement and medical uniforms, badges and supplies. Police Chief James Steffens recognized Antigua as the man who introduced himself at a Memorial Day event as Lt. Cmdr. Roy Antigua of the Coast Guard. Antigua, it turns out, was never in the military. It appears, according to the barrage of citizens' tips, that was not the only time Antigua pretended to be someone he was not.

"Several of these people are claiming to have been around Roy Antigua where he either had credentials or presented them or (had) been in uniform," Steffens said Tuesday. "We have to validate those tips."

Steffens is thankful for the public's response. Antigua, who is being held in the Pasco jail for violating his probation for grand theft, does not face any charges at this time from his collection of disguises.

"I know we are going to get the answers we are looking for," Steffens said. "It's just a matter of patience and perseverance."

Antigua, a licensed respiratory care practitioner, had a badge saying he was a physician's assistant at Morton Plant Mease hospitals. Investigators found a suitcase of medical scrubs and a bag of doctor's instruments.

"We don't believe that he used that Morton Plant Mease badge at our facilities," said spokeswoman Beth Hardy. She said the badge does not look anything like their official badges and it also has a spelling error. It said he was a "Physicians Assistnat."

"We take security very seriously. We don't believe that there was any patient contact," Hardy said. "And we are still monitoring the situation."

The U.S. Secret Service interviewed Antigua and deemed him not to be a threat.

"We have no information to lead us to believe that he was posing as a Secret Service agent or representing himself as a member of our agency," said Special Agent in Charge John Joyce.

Among Antigua's seized items was a membership card for the American Legion Paradise Post 79 in New Port Richey.

Commander Lonny Hyde, an Army veteran, said Antigua was a member in 2011 but didn't renew this year. No one remembers seeing him. To think of Antigua falsely joining the veterans' group is upsetting, Hyde said.

"I am not a happy camper," he said.

Antigua, who was born in Cuba and lived in Miami, declined a jail interview request. His mother also declined to speak to the Times.

Public records indicate Antigua was married at least twice. Steffens said Antigua was living alone. He said his agency is trying to find out how Antigua made all of his identification cards; no machinery was found.

Simply having the IDs and uniforms is not a crime, said Catherine Cameron, media law professor at Stetson University College of Law. What's important is how the items were used, she said.

If you're at a Halloween party dressed as an officer, "any reasonable person could look at you and tell you are not seriously trying to act as a police officer," Cameron said.

But it's a different story if Antigua was impersonating law enforcement and using that disguise to impose his will on others.

"Just having that in your house is not, in and of itself, illegal," she said. "What he may or may not have done with it may be."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

Police swamped with tips about Pasco man with vast collection of IDs 08/07/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 11:03pm]
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